The Senator and the UFOs

In the midst of a week-long celebration of his record-breaking 42 years in the Senate, Strom Thurmond, R-S.C., is facing a major embarrassment. In July, Pocket Books is publishing The Day After Roswell: A Former Pentagon Official Reveals the U.S. Government's Shocking UFO Cover-Up, by retired Col. Philip J. Corso--a book whose cover trumpets Thurmond's complimentary foreword.

Corso's book--timed for the 50th anniversary of the crash of an alleged alien spaceship near Roswell, N.M.--argues that extraterrestrial technology from the Roswell crash was crucial to the development of the integrated circuit chip, the laser and fiber optics. Corso writes that as a Pentagon official in the early 1960s, he inherited a cabinet full of Roswell debris and eventually helped disseminate the pieces to defense contractors.

Karl Pflock, a New Mexico-based writer and UFO enthusiast who spent four years as deputy assistant defense secretary under President Reagan, described the book in an interview as "a unified field theory of Roswell, UFOs, alien abductions and cattle mutilations."

Because Corso was an aide to Thurmond from Mar. 1963-Dec. 1964 and again from Feb. 1973-July 1974, he asked Thurmond to write the foreword. But a Thurmond aide said that the proposal they received only described the book as Corso's personal memoirs and did not reveal its focus on aliens and UFOs.

"When I agreed to provide a foreword for Col. Philip Corso's forthcoming book, I was of the understanding that the book was autobiographical in nature," Thurmond said in a statement released late Tuesday. "Therefore I provided Col. Corso and his publisher a foreword commenting on his 'full and adventurous life.' I regret the foreword that I wrote in comment on Col. Corso's professional life has now appeared as part of a book that professes to 'reveal the U.S. government's shocking UFO cover-up.' I know of no such 'cover-up' and do not believe one existed."

In the foreword, Thurmond writes that Corso "had a great deal of expertise not only as a military officer but also in the fields of intelligence and national security."

Pflock said that Pocket Books has been keeping the book closely guarded, asking him to embargo his review for a UFO magazine until the mid-July anniversary of Roswell. Pflock said that sources told him that the book was going to unveiled nationally on a Dateline NBC segment from the Roswell commemoration. Pocket Books did not respond to inquiries late yesterday.

Pflock added that he met the author, who is in his 80s, in January 1993 and despite his seemingly solid military credentials, Pflock said he "dismissed him as a blowhard loony tune. Most of the people I've been in touch with who believe in the reality of UFOs think that this book is from far out of left field. He talks about things I have first-hand knowlege of, and for what he has to say, any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental."

An anonymous reviewer in the current issue of Publisher's Weekly wrote that "Corso comes off as calm, sober and rational," but added that "his claims are so outlandish ... that the many readers he's going to attract likely will have difficulty discerning whether they are reading a hoax, ravings or the biggest story of the century."

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